You’re in a conversation with a prospect.  A long time, loyal customer.  Your boss.  Just about anybody.

Let’s assume you’re actively listening, taking notes as needed.  But there are points in the conversation that mean more than almost anything else said.

It’s not necessarily at the end, when you’re trying to summarize the conversation and next steps.  The most important part of the conversation isn’t always structured, and it often comes without warning.

And it’s that exact moment when you learn what’s most important, right now, to your customer or prospect.  I bet you hear them on a regular basis already.

I call them “lean in” moments because the prospect or customer is sharing something important, something they need you to pay attention to.  It’s the most important part of the conversation for you to write down, and your body language reinforces that you’re paying attention and taking them seriously.

You’ll start to recognize these “lean in” moments by the words that immediately precede them or begin them.  Things like:

  • “What I’m really worried about is…”
  • “Our CEO is particularly focused on…”
  • “Our board has challenged us to…”
  • “I really need to figure out…”

There are countless statements like these, and you can probably tell that what follows them could be the key to winning a new deal, discovering a new project, or simply delighting your customer or boss or colleague with insights, solutions and results on something they care about.

I bet you hear at least one or two before the end of the day.  The most important thing, of course, is how you respond and provide value.  But simply recognizing those gems to begin with gives you the opportunity.